"Mermaids are real. They aren't myths or fairytales; and I killed them." Morrissey Ford stumbled across a far bigger than the fin of his new friend. Leonora is the experiment he betrayed by mistake. What would you do if your childhood sweetheart was the one who'd led your family to their deaths?


1. Prologue


“A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.”

Honore de Balzac 


Two children sit by the sea. The sky is gold, darker blues and blacks bruising their way across the haze minute by minute. It looks as though it’s scarring the day with cool night. There is no one else but a parent who nests in the house a scream of alarm away. They are the only two people in this world.

"Nora," The boy of the pair calls out, his voice growing serious. His eyes glimmer by the sea, blue orbs light as the water was so many hours ago. The smile of the girl wipes off the contours of her face. She nods swiftly as though to encourage him to speak, her body tenses as the tide keeps her cool. The boy frowns, arms folded into each other neatly beside the edge with millimeters between the shore. Only her shoulders and above poke out as she lies, stomach grazing lightly on the grains of crushed shells.

"I don't want to leave." He admits, burrowing his teeth into his bottom lip. Her giggle doesn't fit but he couldn't have expected a real answer from her anyway. She reaches out a wet hand towards him, and pats a damp spot onto his own palm she takes it lightly. He shivers. The feel of the webbed material sewn by nature between each of her fingers tickles him.

"I really wish you talked to me, do you even understand?" He sighs, more bitterly than he intended. Of course she doesn't, she isn't from here. She isn't from anywhere. She's a nomad. An alien. The boy doesn't think about her this way, but wonders if he should. He watches as a small wave is disrupted on its way to shore by a fin's tip poking through to the upper lands, and remembers that fin belongs to her. Brown scales that slowly fall in a lax gradient to silver. It's magnificent. She sighs with him, copying his own moments like a toddler learning. He is young, voice not broken, living in his kingdom of childhood. Whilst she is the same, maybe a cluster of months behind his beginning, she’s the naïve of the pair. She is untaught in his ways. He learnt she cannot speak the language he speaks softly, and he knows it saddens her. It builds a fortress through them that only their understanding gestures seem to crash against. She looks at him as if to say that she does, and silence overlaps their thoughts. The sky darkens, and her hand begins to burn despite the light that softly glows, not violent to his skin.

He catches her wimping in pain. A small outcry that only just touches on the outside of her lips, but it distresses him greatly. For a boy of only a cluster of years, he takes on the sadness of other people with the empathy of a wise, considerate man.

“Please, don’t.” He lightly removes her hand, and allows it once again to soak into the richness of the sea’s kiss. The relief on her face is immediate, a gracious thanks in the way her eyes gleam bronze. Her eyes are the kind you couldn’t forget, a rich liquid chocolate smooth as satin as the colour reaches her pupils. He can’t decide if that’s what makes them stand out so much, the colour or the blue that surrounds the corners of her eyebrow that separate her face from being average looking. Without them; maybe she could pass as being one of them. But he is young, and doesn’t realise the implications of not being one of them.

He doesn’t know she’s a secret, a whisper only meant for the ears of the sea ad not scrawny little boys with dads who don’t watch as they wonder off on their own. It wasn’t his dad’s fault; he just didn’t notice. Not when he broke a tooth on the dresser when he was four; at least, not until his face was adorned in crimson finally catching the engrossed expression of his father, who’s voice turned from the firm but promising voice of a business man chasing a deal to the devoted housewife in three seconds flat. His dad had to be both the roles, while the boy wasn’t good at all at playing the demanding child. What he wanted he kept quiet, and what he needed he asked for so quietly you could hardly hear that either. Which was why, in fact, he found it so strange that it was his task to speak for two. Nora couldn’t speak, only nod. Even finding out her name was difficult.

“Morrissey.” The boy pointed to himself, prodding his chest as he’d met her the day before. She hid half in the water, with only her eyes peeping out at the new visitor. She’d never talked to people before; they weren’t company worth having, her mother said. And her father was no more supportive of the landwalkers. They were greedy, and destructive, and filled the world with chaos. Of course she was biast having never met one, and was almost disappointed not to find a terrifying monster as she braved the surface and in its place a gawky boy. He looked almost normal; except there was pale, plain skin where his scales weren’t and he spoke words she’d never heard before. He kept pointing, until finally she caught on.

“Morrissey,” She drew out  a webbed hand from the clear sea to aim at him, shocking him slightly in the process. “Leonora.” Her hand retaliated. He smiled.He nicknamed her Nora within hours.

It was a funny thing how two children could spend the entire day together with hardly saying a single word. They didn't need to fill each seconds with babbles like adults on awkward on first dates. If there was something they needed to say; they spelt it out with looks or gestures.Soon the sun was falling, and they parted imprinted on each other like fingerprints in ink.

Now they are beside each other again. When his father asked where he was, Morrissey didn't lie. "I was playing with a mermaid." His dad hardly raised an eyebrow at this, knee deep in current affairs scrawled across cheaply distributed paper. "Good for you, son." Morrissey smiled flatly as a hand clamped onto his head - a supposedly affectionate gesture - and let Morrissey return to whatever he was doing which was nothing. For all the culture in the quaint little fishing town, their selection of fun for a boy his age was poor. "It'll be fun, His dad had said as he'd displayed the webpage to Morris for the first time. "I promise." Those two words had very little substance in his vocabulary. A promise was just a comforting mutter of words, like a lullaby or maybe a white lie.

But it hadn't been fun. It hadn't been fun for two weeks. Only now, with Leonora etched on his brain and the spaces of sight between when he blinked he finally had entertainment; and it came with a large silver tail. When Morrissey was tucked up into his bed, his dad wished him goodnight whispering; "Mermaids, huh? As he left. His chuckle haunted the quiet room for a syllable too long.

Morning passed. Cereal was scoffed and few words were exchanged. Before eight o'clock Morrissey was already out, holding his hand above his brow to help search for Nora. First he worried if she'd show up at all; and even then, what would happen when she did? What if she'd decided last night that she hated him, and would spit in his face and swim away? What if she hadn't been a mermaid at all, but a cruel joke by the local schoolgirls who had nothing better to do then to fool the idiot abroad? Or maybe she'd turn out to be the mermaid of the more grimier fairytales who dragged her victims into the blue for dinner. His forehead crinkled and begin to throb with nerves as he sat for a while, then paced, then sat again until his back became stiff and decided she wouldn't come at all. Just as he was about to leave; a head of shimmering brown locks erupted from the cool blue and stuck to her shoulders as her head rose. He could tell it hurt her a little but didn't think to ask. He was just so glad to see her, and for her grin to look as genuine as it did. 

They spent the rest of the day in parallel to the day before. Basking in the gentle sun, and the way the sea was slowly trying to lure them into the murky, uncertain depths of the sea. "I want to live under the sea, with you Nora." Morrissey wished aloud, knowing it was all sounds to her with no meaning, much like a promise. But it was his wish - under the sea they'd be no awkwardness, no lame holidays, no absent parents. Just him and Nora, against the world. If only he could grow a tail, then he'd run away into the waters no questions asked. If only's... They filled the world with regrets for events that never happened. Or at least Morrissey thought that, or a simpler term considering he was hardly in middle school yet and words didn't fit together in his brain so eloquently. He did think, however, that without them he'd be a happier boy.

He was taken aback by his thought, he could hardly notice the lights streaking the ground from above until much too late when a bloodcurdling scream arose from Leonora's lips - as fear was a universal language - and he watched as the black uniforms and loud noises trampled on their moment and the chaos spreads into the water with a fury. Oblivious to what is going on, both of the same two children who met on the beach being ripped about are forced into a unconscious blackness which ends the memory that would haunt them forever.

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